A couple of years ago I bought a 25-lb. Little Giant power hammer from Robert Womack in Goldthwaite, TX. A power hammer is a mechanical or air-driven machine (mine is mechanical) with upper and lower dies serving as the hammer and anvil. Most power hammers are controlled with a foot pedal, leaving the smith's hands free to work the metal stock.
I probably paid too much for my Little Giant but, what the heck, they don't make 'em anymore. No, seriously, they quit making the 'old style' Little Giant in 1929, and my power hammer dates from 1926. (The entire production of Little Giants ceased in the 1980s).
According to official records, eight Little Giant power hammers were shipped via train on 3/20/1926 to Southern Implement Supply Company in Dallas, TX. I've got a hunch my hammer never left Texas after that date, just scooted about the state a bit until landing in my Austin-based studio in 2011.
Enter Sid Suedmeier. Refurbishing these machines is Sid's specialty, besides being one heck of a nice guy. Sid actually bought the Little Giant plans and remaining parts inventory from the now-defunct company and is THE source for parts and maintenance needs.
Additionally, Sid hosts a Little Giant rebuilding class every March. I attended this year and learned how to repair and maintain my power hammer so that it runs as well as the hammer Sid tore down and rebuilt before our very eyes over a snowy weekend in Nebraska City, NE.
I returned home and evaluated my power hammer based on what I learned at the class. I ordered parts and sought advice. Now I'm ready to pour some new babbitt bearings with the lead ingots Sid mailed. I can't even believe I know what that last sentence means, that's how much I learned that weekend.
I'll keep folks posted on the progress of my power hammer rebuilding project...
Pictured above is my 25-lb. Little Giant in its 'before' state, our March class of about 25 attendees, and Sid himself in mid-lecture.
Back stories and latest goings-on in the studio